Adding to His Book of Life
by Phyllis Hurst
I was born 82 years ago to loving parents. My mother was a godly woman--a woman after God's Own Heart. She was kind to everyone. She taught me to pray. My sister, my three brothers, and I would kneel down with my mother and pray when we were young. That was the last thing we did at night. We loved the Lord. We went to Mass faithfully each Sunday and every Holy Day. We were all baptized into the Catholic Church when we were about two weeks old, and we made our First Holy Communion at age seven, and that was the beginning of a special love for God. I always attended a Catholic school and sang in the choir. I felt bad when people said we prayed to statues, because we were really praying to the people whom they represented and we believed they would intercede for us. Now I know there is only One Intercessor--Jesus Christ.
In April, 1975, my daughter, Jacky, who was 31, told me of her decision to leave the Catholic Church. I was very hurt. One day she asked me to visit a missionary friend of hers from India named Sam Finn who lived in Cincinnati. He told me things from God's Word I had never heard before. As a Catholic, I had been discouraged from reading the Bible because the priests said we might misinterpret it. Sam told me Jesus had brothers and sisters. I was amazed and happy to know this. He said if I put all my loved ones second in my life and put God first, then the Lord would take over. My heart was deeply touched and when we got home, I wanted to tell my husband and sister all about my day, but they were very angry and did not want to hear anything about it. Time passed and I felt I loved my family too much to risk losing them. It was really very hard for me during that time, because my son got up early before work to go faithfully to Mass and my grandchildren couldn't understand why I wanted to change churches. I wrote to several of them and tried to explain why. I stayed in the Catholic Church long after I knew it was God's Will that I leave. By that time, another daughter, Becky, left the church and once in a while I would attend church with her or Jacky. I would still make sure I had attended early Mass and Communion before I went with them. However, in my heart, I longed to know more about the Jesus Sam Finn had told me about. But if I left the church, what would others think, especially my precious grandchildren whom I loved so dearly and whom I knew loved me? I waited a few months longer because my husband and sister were so against my decision. They kept asking me the same question over and over, "Why do you want to do this? You're a good person just they way you are."
Finally, on June 13, 1978, at age 64, I decided to take Sam's advice and put God first, and I was baptized at the Adena Road Church of Christ in Chillicothe. And God put a love for His Word and prayer down deep in my heart that has become a priority in my daily life. One by one, the Lord worked in the hearts of my family and all four of my children were saved. God is so good, and He gave me one of the greatest desires of my heart when my husband gave his life to Jesus when he was 68 years old.
The following is part of the letter I sent to my son and daughter-in-law. It says, "I have hesitated to write because I was afraid what your reaction would be. Then after many sleepless nights and much praying and crying, I realized I must forget about myself. What a terrible shock to find that after all those years, I had religion but did not know the Lord. I must write now as it may be too late if I wait as I am growing older and may not be able to think or write in a few years. God knows our hearts, but He has given us the privilege of choice. I will never stop thanking God that your Daddy came to know Him as he did before he died. He could never have withstood the suffering mentally or physically if he had not accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. And now I know that even some days when I miss him so much, that we will only be separated for a little while. We are going to spend eternity together with the Good Lord and I want that so badly for you. This letter is a result of prayer, fasting, and the love that lies deeply within the heart of a mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Because you are so precious to me, I had to tell you of the Most Wonderful Experience I ever had. I met my Savior."
God honored that letter, and I am happy to tell you I received a letter from my son which was his personal testimony. In it he writes, "On July 8, 1983, I got a letter from my mother. That letter contained more knowledge, wisdom, and love than any letter I have ever read. After reading her letter, I knew I was wrong and had to change my life and influence the lives of my family. I never thought I would ever look forward to going to church. One hour on Sunday at Mass was plenty. I now look forward to church on Sunday and Wednesday. I want to go more. I want my family and I to be the best Christians that God ever knew. I thank God every day for helping me and my family and for not letting my sisters give up on me. But most of all I thank God for that letter I got that changed my entire life. That letter was from the smartest lady in the world, my Mom."
I also wrote a letter to my first great-grandchild, Jesse, when he was 11. I would like to share part of it with you. It says, "Jesse, Honey, I must write this letter to you today as I am getting older and may not have the time later. You will probably never know how much I love you but as you grow older, I hope you will remember some of the joys you and I have shared. Honey, please don't let the excitement of being young cause you to forget about your Creator. Honor Him in your youth. All of us need direction on this journey of life. And the Bible is our greatest Guide. Like a sign, it points us to Christ, the Way of Salvation and the way we are to live. Without such direction, we would literally be lost. Thank God for His Word, but if we don't read the Bible or do what it says, it is as if we had no direction at all. It will also bring you God's Peace. I want to be sure you will be in Heaven someday with Grandpa and with me and all our loved ones."
Jesse leaves for Otterbein College in a few days and I am praying the Lord will bring a Christian friend into his life.
After the death of my beloved husband, I moved my membership to Waverly Church of Christ on August 27, 1986, when I came to make my home with my daughter, Becky, and her family. They have been a blessing to me. Without Becky's help, I would not have been able to do this.
God, in His wonderful goodness and mercy, keeps adding members of my family to His Book of Life, and as of today, I have recorded the names of 43 of my loved ones who have made decisions for Christ.
God alone knows the heart of man, and I can only praise Him for the countless number of those who were added to His Forever Kingdom long before I ever knew Him. I am truly blest.
Copyright © 1996 Phyllis Hurst
May be reprinted for evangelistic purposes if printed in its entirety and distributed free of charge.